Balancing color, culture & minimalism in our home

If you ask anyone what comes to mind when they think of India, I’m sure the popular answers would be the big weddings, the food, bright & colorful clothing and the beautiful places to visit. When we think of the clothing, we think of zari embroidery, Kanjeevaram sarees, gota patti, mirror work and so much more. While this popular side of India has its charm and beauty, I would love to talk about the other side. The side I resonate to, it’s the love for the simplicity in woven fabrics, minimalism and craftmanship.  

For a while, I felt slightly disconnected from the popular concept of India, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But as I explored the various textiles of India, I recognized the multi-faceted side of India. I am from the southern state of India called Kerala, where our love for white, gold and embroidery are honestly unmatched. The traditional saree of Kerala is called a Kasavu saree. It is an elegant cotton saree woven with a solid gold border. Some sarees will have a striped border of gold and kara (color). The saree is very simple, yet the elegance of the saree is spectacular. The Christian women from this state, can often be seen wearing white sarees with beautiful embroidery on it like cutwork, chikankari, bead work, etc. While exploring the woven fabrics of India, I found Ikatkhadi, Benarasi work, Jamdani, Lehariya, Kota, Patola, Gamucha, Champa Ranga and so much more. Then there are the printed fabrics such as block printed, Kalamkari, Mata ni Pachedi and more.  

Usage of color is often associated with maximalism, where you focus on bright bold colors along with large busy prints mixed with bold metallic elements. However, after exploring the woven textiles, I see a beautiful relationship between color, minimalism and elegant craftmanship. While it might sound contrary, I feel it’s simply just not talked about with the same gusto as maximalism. I feel woven fabrics also showcase so much culture from the state of its origin.

So then brings in the question, if we can embrace color and minimalism in our textiles, how can we carry on this vibe into our home? I absolutely love colors and patterns, and the vibrancy of it. But I do enjoy the simple clean lines and elegance of a Scandinavian style. Some ways to embrace color along with minimalism would be to mix colorful décor with wooden elements, ceramics or elements with sculptural shapes or clean straight lines. Mix these in with some metallic décor pieces as well.  

Here are some practical styling tips to incorporate in your home: 

  1. While choosing paint color for the walls, choose a bright bold saturated color for an accent wall, or choose similar shades with a gray undertone if you are painting the entire room in a single color. 
  2. Opt to style corners with hand carved wood décor or hand painted trays or inlay stenciled décor as the larger pieces instead of primarily metal décor made of silver, brass and gold or high gloss stones like marble. While styling spaces, we need to remember to create gaps for the eye to rest while taking in the entire space.  
  3. Style your living room or reading nook with throw pillows using block printed, ikat, kalamakari or chikankari fabrics. You can also use these fabrics as a table cloth or dinner napkins. You can also hang these fabrics in matted frames on the walls.
  4. Choose artwork or photos from South Asia to add culture and color to your spaces. You can also make a statement with the frames you place the artwork in. You can use neutral or colorful frames or sculptural frames. It is important to identify if you want either the art or the frame to make a statement.  
  5. With the holidays and festival season coming up, you can create a beautiful tablescape by placing a brass uruli or white ceramic bowl filled with marigold or lotus flowers as a centerpiece along with hand craved wooden tealight holders. 

This article was originally posted on Arjuna Design Studio. 


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